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Forum topic by danoaz posted 561 days ago 805 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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danoaz

141 posts in 774 days


561 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: refurbishing question traditional

I would like help with suggestions on what to do with our piano. See the photos. First, what type of wood do you think it is from the photos? Second, as you can see from the close up of the top the wood is very dry and dull looking. Whatever I do it will be done where it stands as I don’t have a way of moving it somewhere without professional movers. I am not really thinking of a high gloss lacquer finish either. I would be happy with just something to bring out the color and depth of the wood. Third, Any thoughts on getting that stain out on the keyboard edge that is obviously from people touching it? The original seat has long since been broken and lost and so I will remake a matching seat once I get the piano up to a more respectable level. Since I don’t have a scrap piece to practice on this is going to be critical to get right. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright


18 replies so far

View mbs's profile

mbs

1422 posts in 1544 days


#1 posted 561 days ago

I’ll help you with the first question. It’s mahogany. Most likely veneer so you can’t sand it very much. One of my first refinish projects when i was a teenager was an instrument and I sanded too far and exposes the surface under the veneer. OOPS

That’s not a project I would work in inside my home. You will likely be using solvents that you won’t be able to keep off the carpet and the smell may permeate the carpet too. sanding dust will go EVERYWHERE. I think you will be money and time ahead to get movers to help you.

They make stripper that’s readily available to strip off old finish without taking the wood off. I would use stripper since it’s veneer.

Not sure how I would finish it.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View danoaz's profile

danoaz

141 posts in 774 days


#2 posted 561 days ago

To mbs: What is it that I would be sanding or striping off? I don’t see or get a feel that there is anything on it but stained wood. A light hand sanding to maybe get some surface grime off? Thanks for the wood info. Obviously I am a newbie here and have worked mostly in oaks, cedar and pine.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

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mbs

1422 posts in 1544 days


#3 posted 561 days ago

You need to remove the old finish/stain and get down to bare wood. Once you get a nice base of bare wood you can put any finish you want on it.

Many LJ’s have more knowledge in finishing options than I have. It’s early in the day. Hopefully some other people will give their thoughts.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View danoaz's profile

danoaz

141 posts in 774 days


#4 posted 561 days ago

To mbs: I get what you are saying but my concern with that would be going too far down. I guess I was hoping for a “restore” and not a total “redo” on the finish. Many thanks for your comments.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

911 posts in 1294 days


#5 posted 561 days ago

With the piano indoors you’ll have to use a wipe on style finish. You should look into Formby’s restore. You can find it at the big boxes.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View jim C's profile

jim C

1452 posts in 1702 days


#6 posted 561 days ago

This product works like magic. They have it for all kinds of different woods including Mahogany.

http://www.howardproducts.com/prod-restor-a-finish.php

I have used it on nicked up, scuffed furniture and it’s like a miracle. I did little if any sanding. I restored an old oak coffee table to look new.
Let me know if you try it.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View danoaz's profile

danoaz

141 posts in 774 days


#7 posted 561 days ago

I was thinking of using this cabinet as a test model of different brands of restore-finish products before going after the piano. I think I will all so start with the underside of the lid of the piano just to be doubly sure I am not doing something I will regret.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1762 days


#8 posted 561 days ago

You shouldn’t need to strip anything unless the problem is underneath. It’s probably just the top finish.

First thing…put some denatured alcohol on a rag and rub on an inconspicuous spot for a minute. If stuff comes off on the rag and gets sticky, then the finish was shellac. That’d be really good. I would wipe everything down with the alcohol, lightly sanding it just enough to smooth things out (don’t linger on one spot here) and reapply a shellac, which will melt into the previous finish and self level. Spraying with a slight tint (using TransTint dyes) can give you an alteration of color, if desired.

If its not shellac, it was probably a lacquer. At that point, use some lacquer thinner and do the exact same thing as above. If some lacquer comes off on the rag and gets sticky, then the finish was indeed lacquer. This too would be really good. I would wipe down the whole thing, lightly sanding as above, getting the old finish as smooth as possible, and then I could reapply lacquer, which will melt into the previous finish and self-level.

If it’s neither shellac or lacquer, then it’s varnish (like poly)...and at that point it would suck to be you. :) Stripping would be the only real choice there.

Regardless, you can get a good idea as to what it will look like just by wiping down everything with a solvent (I like mineral spirits for this). Wipe it fast and liberally. Stand back and look at it. If it looks good, then that’s likely what the piano will look like with only a refreshed finish. This is the good thing about shellac and lacquer, and it is why instrument makers will often use these finishes. You don’t want to have to strip instruments like these. They can just be refreshed by sanding back a bit with their respective solvents and reapplied.

My $.02…

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1024 days


#9 posted 561 days ago

This instrument could be very beautiful.
If it were mine, I would be using a grain filler and a dark dye on it. I would polish this to as high a gloss as I could get. It could be stunning if you put in the effort.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2163 posts in 1454 days


#10 posted 561 days ago

So much of finishing finesse has to do with feel, danoaz.

It’s hard to render an opinion with out touching it.

But the best we have is a picture.

What is the history here? Has it been sanded by someone else? Refinished by someone else? Is this sunfading?

Using a bright light shining across the surface, get your eyes right down and that level and look across. Can you see areas that have finish and those that don’t? Gloss or edges would be the cues here.

I am reluctant to get on the restore bandwagon until we’re sure there’s ample finish there. Those products dissolve what’s on the surface and then you redistribute it and it cures. I doubt, with this much horizontal real estate involved, if this would be acceptable.

As for the potential mess of doing something in place. Plastic down, then a painter’s canvas drop cloth, and you’re ready to go. Wet sand with a block with wetordry paper. You’ll get very good at touch and at using just enough liquid, probably mineral spirits (yes, it will smell) and throwing away used paper.

With that prep, a wipe on varnish (again odor) or brush on waterbase poly. In either case, you’ll want to go back and flat sand it and rub it out.

It’s a big project and you’ll need lots of task lighting to do a good job.

I have just become convinced that mbs has it—pay the guys to move it where you can relax and proceed at your own pace.

Wait. The things come apart. You could remove all the keyboard cover stuff and the music stand and the top and do that elsewhere, right? Then you’d have much less to work on in the living area.

You could even get in there with some sawhorses and a hydraulic jack and remove the legs to work on them elsewhere.

This post reads more like stream of consciousness than an attempt at helpfulness.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1762 days


#11 posted 561 days ago

BTW, Sam and Jim give good advice. Wiping down with those products might do some good, particularly if the solvent in the product matches the solvent for your finish (assuming its not varnish). If you like the results, then call it good.

But if you try it and don’t like it, then you’ve added oils and waxes and what not to it…which would have to be removed before doing a true restore.

EDIT: There are a ton of variables here and, as Lee says, check to see the degree of damage. If its just superficial, then you make make this look good pretty quickly, sometimes just by wiping it down really well with a matching solvent. Just be careful since you can do a ton of damage by stripping, either chemically or mechanically.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1447 posts in 1118 days


#12 posted 561 days ago

danoaz:
I did a number of these horses when I owned my refinishing shop. To be honest, I think there is more finish on there than you might realize, and although you could do a “restore-a-finish”, like Howards or Fornby’s, they won’t take out the stain on the keyboard cover, nor will they remove any real water stains. Most of these products lightly melt the top few microns of the original finish, and try to blend it in with what is in their cans. Sometimes it works, sometimes you get a gooey mess.

The dryness is probably from people wiping it off over the years, and not using the proper product, which slowly dried out the original finish. It also could have been in a sunny window for a long time, hard to tell.

Lots of this piano can be removed, such as the top, keyboard cover, even the keyboard if you want to take it off. But you cannot get around that huge iron plate inside which is wrapped by the outside body. So I would recommend you having it moved to a place where you can lightly strip off any remaining finish without ruining the room in which it sits.

It looks like a lot of the finish is dried and thin, but in other places it is almost fully intact, so you are in for a stripping job, in my estimation. That will be the only way to get the mahogany veneer the same color. Sanding things to avoid stripping, somewhere you will almost certainly go through and the inside corners will never match the large flat areas. After the finish is removed, you will want to put on a grain enhancer, possibly like Minwax Natural, which will bring out that beautiful mahogany finish and then you can decide if you want to go darker from there before putting on any kind of top coat.

I’d move it, use a good paste stripper, lightly wash it with lacquer thinner, (after removal of everything I could, of course), and then after grain enhancement, possibly putting on a nice wipe-on finish, or if you can spray, a semi-gloss poly would do well.

Good luck!

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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danoaz

141 posts in 774 days


#13 posted 561 days ago

Info Update: Thanks for the comments guys! This piano has been in my wife’s family and no one seems to have any info on where or when it cam to be. Just a long time ago in a galaxy…oh, never mind. Anyway, when I rub my hand across the top I can feel ever so slight the valley and ridges of the grain. The side is smooth for the most part with just a couple of areas along the tight bend can I feel some grain coming up. The sides obviously have some “polish” to it and really bring out the luster of the wood while still being dull. Nothing on here tells me that it ever had a deep, highly polished finished. Not even the legs show signs of high finish which would have the least about of wear-and-tear.
As I am sure some of you can attest to this, one of my hesitations of moving the whole thing is that if I put it away, in the garage, as a side project, then it will linger forever and the wife won’t be happy. Keeping it in the house will make it a constant reminder. l like the suggestions of taking pieces of it to my work shop.
I will try out those options of alcohol and thinner to see what happens and go from there. Thanks everyone.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View jim C's profile

jim C

1452 posts in 1702 days


#14 posted 561 days ago

sounds like sun damage to me. If so, the Hoard products might work really well.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15669 posts in 2822 days


#15 posted 561 days ago

I’ll send a truck around to pick it up, and restore it for you myself. I’ll send it back to you when I’m done, but I must warn you… I work quite slowly. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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